A UNBELIEVABLE DISTANCE TO RUN

Echo graduate Jessica Emmel (front) will compete in the 2004 Down Under International Games in Sydney, Australia starting July 11-12.

By Ben Reynolds

Herald sports editor

Since the track season ended about a month ago, Jessica Emmel has been doing what most high schoolers do during the summer: work.

Emmel, a recent graduate from Echo High Schoo,l has been working two jobs to help earn some money for college in the fall. During her free time she has been taking placement tests and spending time with her friends.

Running has not been a priority since she competed at the state track meet in mid-May. She likes to take a stroll a couple times a week around the farmland near her home, but nothing real serious.

By her own admission she said she is not in the shape she was at the peak of the track season. And for someone that is preparing to run in a meet with some of the better runners from around the globe, her conditioning is not her biggest concern.

She is a little apprehensive about riding on an airplane half-way around the world. Emmel has never placed a foot on an airplane and the thought of flying, well...

"I am a little nervous," she said.

Emmel, a state qualifier in four events her senior year for the Cougars, will take part in the 2004 Down Under International Games in Sydney, Australia July 11-12.

Emmel will participate in the 1,500 and 3,000-meter runs and the pole vault. She can compete in as many different events as she would like and may decide to try her hand at something else.

The trip is not solely based on the meet. She has a laundry list of things she and other athletes from across the United States will partake in while in Australia.

But then again, for the competitive-minded Emmel, the meet is a chance to showcase her skills as a runner.

"It's going to be a different type of competition and it will give me a chance to see where I stand," she said.

Emmel has raised over $3,000 for the trip, but for someone that has never been a more than a couple of hours drive from home, this is a chance she couldn't pass up.

Emmel has aspirations of starting her own photography studio and says this will be a great chance to work on her portfolio.

"This is a chance to participate, compete and have some fun," she said.

Emmel will run cross country and track for Treasure Valley Community College next season.

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